.

Napa vs. Sonoma: Dining Done Slow and Simple

A mere 10 miles separate two towns with similar climate, industry and culture. But the restaurant scene is worlds apart.

It’s no secret we Sonomans have a certain amount of pride and resistance from our uppity neighbors to the east, and after spending a few days in Napa I remember why.

The past few nights I've been forced to leave my rustic mountain top home to “pet-sit” in a subdivision in Napa. To say the least, I’m homesick. 

Yes, the common generalizations I hear around town are confirmed regarding the Sonoma/Napa divide. Obviously Napa is significantly more expensive, there are longer lines and they have a more formal clientele.  But when it comes to the overall dinning experience, the old clichés fall flat.

Eating in Sonoma is not a contest - crisp linens are irrelevant and servers here don’t need bow ties to make us feel special.  Sonoma's criteria for a superior dining experience are simple: a smiling face, a slower pace and food that (for the most part) is cultivated by our neighbors. 

But the relaxed ambiance is only part of the beauty of Sonoma’s culinary culture; the layout of the city changes the vibe.  Most restaurants in Sonoma are neighbors – the downtown dining scene circles the Plaza, with most spots sitting just a few steps away from one another. Chefs, waiters and restaurateurs know each other; they dine and drink in their competitor’s establishments. Somewhere along the way, we’ve become a team.

Not to say healthy competition isn’t prevalent, but I think most Sonoma spots strive to represent our small geographic area as best we can to the world. And the community-minded spirit infuses the food: Napa keep your pretension, celebrity chiefs and celebrity prices – I’ll trade you for a handmade empanada, a simple bowl of ravioli or a hot dog any day.

Eating in Sonoma, contributes greatly to the big thing I love about this town – its simplicity. A long dinner in town and a slow walk around the plaza to digest is my idea of a perfect evening.

So let’s celebrate why we live here and try something new. At dinner time there is no reason to leave Sonoma. The best is in our backyard.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »